GYLA responds to the demolition process of several buildings and premises built without a permit by the Tbilisi Municipal Inspectorate in the “African settlement” on December 15th and calls on the Tbilisi City Hall to stop dismantling, as well as to provide and implement a policy of support for the homeless persons.
On November 25th, the City Mayor announced at a meeting of the Municipal Government and gave an assignment to the head of the Municipal Inspectorate to dismantle the premises built on illegally appropriated land plots on time. At the mentioned meeting, the City Hall did not present a vision on the condition of the people living there in case of demolition of the buildings, who will most likely find themselves on the street. City Hall has not publicly offered alternative housing to the residents there.
This decision by the City Hall is even more unacceptable when the COVID-19 pandemic is raging in the country. The socio-economic crisis created by the global COVID-19 pandemic is an additional challenge for the homeless persons. The decision of the Tbilisi City Hall indicates that the city government does not have sensitivity towards one of the most vulnerable groups. Instead of pursuing a humane policy, the City Hall leaves the people residing in such premises in the open air, which poses special problems for them. One of the primary causes of virus exacerbation in homeless people is the lack of safe and adequate housing. Homeless people face a particular threat from the rapid spread of COVID-19. Leaving people outdoors restricts their access to hygiene and sanitation facilities, as well as appropriate health services.
Civil society and the Public Defender (Ombudsman) have been talking about the problems of the homeless persons for years. According to the Public Defender (Ombudsman) "there is no government strategy and action plan for the homeless persons, as well as a complete legislative explanation of a homeless person, and the framework legislation necessary for the realization of the right to adequate housing. The lack of unified list of homeless persons and in a number of municipalities - the lack of local databases, still remains as a problem, limited budgetary and infrastructural resources, the lack of support programs for people housed in shelters and social housing, and in some municipalities - their inefficiency."
All these problems have been even more exacerbated by the pandemic and under the conditions of the introduced restrictions, and the decision made by the City Hall makes the existing reality even more problematic, and instead of giving state support, it uses repressive policies against these people.
Accordingly, we call on
The Tbilisi City Hall:
- Stop the dismantling process of the buildings and premises, so that the people living there do not find themselves on the street in the open air.
- Implement a supportive policy and provide persons residing there with adequate housing in the event of dismantling the buildings and premises built without a permit.
To the Government of Georgia:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, suspend the enforcement of dismantling the real estate of the people who are on the verge to be homeless, including the dismantling of buildings and premises built without a permit.